Two midfielders, the Belgian creative from City and the French roadrunner, are the emblems of the two English contenders for the continental throne.
Kevin De Bruyne and Ngolo Kanté they are the symbols of the two English aspirants to the continental throne. While the Belgian magician of City transfers Pep Guardiola’s commitment to touch football to the grass, the French roadrunner reflects better than anyone the intensity of a Chelsea that crushed Madrid by physical KO.
The jewel that ‘Mou’ despised
Despised by Chelsea and Mourinho, De Bruyne has had at Manchester City and Pep Guardiola the foster family he needed to flourish. The Portuguese coach ignored a player in London whom he referred to as a “crybaby” and a “annoying child.” He did not give him ball and in a meeting with the rest of the midfielders (Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, Willian, Oscar and Andre Schürrle) his little production spoiled him: a goal and no assistance. A humiliation that convinced that 23-year-old, whom Roman abramovich signed after dazzling at Werder Bremen, which was due to leave Stamford Bridge.
This year he has 10 goals and 18 assists, although his impact on the game goes far beyond the numbers. Guardiola opted for him as his Messi and this redhead has not disappointed him.
Like Pep, in the beginning he had a fragile physique and had to replace it in the lower categories based on technique and placement. During his training in Genk, a foster family lived until his mother told him through tears that this family did not love him. “Why?” He asked his mother. “Because you are as you are.”
But neither that rejection nor Mou’s made him stop being the way he was. He exploded at Wolfsburg and Guardiola, who had suffered him in the Bundesliga, has managed to bring out all the power that was nested inside: vision of the game (especially of the last pass), arrival and personality. «After Messi, comes De Bruyne», Said the Catalan coach who, after seeing how the Argentine led him to his first two Champions League, hopes that the Belgian will lead him to his third.
The 15-lung beast
A terrible chill ran through the bodies of Chelsea fans in recent days. It was not be for lowerly. Ngolo kante He was injured in the hamstrings on the penultimate day of the Premier and it was doubtful for the final today. False alarm. The MVP of the round trip of the semifinals against Madrid will be in the eleven. Bad news for City.
Without the glamor or fame of other stars on the football scene, Kanté has earned the admiration of the whole world. Fans, teammates and rivals praise the little midfielder, a tireless guy who accumulates kilometers without fainting. As it does? “Everything is in the mind,” he maintains. Something will have to do, or rather a lot, his childhood. At just 7 years old, he walked non-stop through the Paris suburbs looking for scrap metal to recycle. His family, of Malian origin, had little resources and had to multiply when his father died. At the time, Ngolo was 11 years old and had eight siblings, but he got ahead.
In football, nobody gave him anything. His short stature (now 1.68) was always an impediment. Caen took notice of his qualities and began a climb that has taken him to the top. At the age of 30, he has been League champion with Leicester and Chelsea, and has won the World Cup with France in 2018. The Champions League would crown a brilliant record.
“He’s small, he’s kind, he stopped Leo Messi,” says one of the favorite songs of Chesea fans in honor of their little idol. «I am taller, but the greatest is Kanté. He must have 15 lungs to run that much », jokes his good friend Pogba.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.